Sony Pictures Imageworks
|Industry||CGI visual effects
|Founded||January 1, 1992|
|Headquarters||Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada|
Number of locations
|Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Culver City, California, United States
|Parent||Sony Pictures Entertainment|
Sony Pictures Imageworks, Inc. (SPI) is a visual effects and character animation company headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. SPI is a unit of the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group.
The company has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Oscars for their work on Spider-Man 2 and the computer-animated short film The ChubbChubbs!, and received many other nominations for their work.
SPI has provided visual effects for many films, most recent include Oz the Great and Powerful, The Amazing Spider-Man and Men in Black 3. They also provided services for several of director Robert Zemeckis' films, including Contact, Cast Away, The Polar Express, Monster House and Beowulf.
Since foundation of its sister company Sony Pictures Animation in 2003, SPI has also animated all SPA's films, including Open Season, Surf's Up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs film series, The Smurfs film series and Hotel Transylvania film series, and also helped animate other animated films like Rovio Animation's The Angry Birds Movie and Warner Animation Group's Storks.
Sony Pictures Imageworks was formed in 1992 with five employees to use computers to help plan complicated scenes for live-action films. Located in the former TriStar building, their first work was a previsualization for a 1993 film Striking Distance.
To fill the gaps between VFX jobs, SPI decided to partake in a more profitable animation business. Its first independent animated effort was the 5-minute short The ChubbChubbs! directed by Eric Armstrong. In 2002, it won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. Early Bloomer, released in 2003, was the division's second short film and originally made as a storyboarding exercise. SPI completed its first feature animation project in 2006 with the release of Open Season.
In 2007, SPI acquired Indian visual effects studio FrameFlow to take advantage of lower labor costs. Renamed to Imageworks India, a modern facility was opened in Chennai a year later. To leverage New Mexico's tax rebates and talent base, a satellite production facility was opened in 2007 in Albuquerque, becoming the largest post-production operation in the state. In 2010, SPI opened a production studio in Vancouver, British Columbia, in order to take advantage of the local talent pool and government film production incentives. Two years later, the studio doubled its Vancouver facilities. At the same time, the Albuquerque studio was closed down due to declining New Mexico's subsidies and difficulty with attracting artist to move there.
In the beginning of 2014, as part of Sony's cost-cutting move, SPI transferred a portion of its technology team from its headquarters in Culver City to Vancouver. By May 2014, entire headquarters and production had been moved to Vancouver, with only a small office remaining in Los Angeles. At the same time, SPI closed down its Indian studio, laying off around 100 employees. A year later, over 700 artists moved into a new 74,000-square feet headquarters in Vancouver.
During 2009-2010, SPI made transition from traditional biased, multi-pass rendering system to a largely singlepass, global illumination system incorporating modern ray-tracing and physically based shading techniques. They have achieved that with Arnold Renderer, an unbiased stochastic ray tracer. Arnold, started in 1997 by Marcos Fajardo, was co-developed between 2004 and 2009 with SPI, where Marcos was employed, and a commercial branch is being developed by Marcos' Madrid based company Solid Angle SL. Arnold was used on projects such as Monster House, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 2012, Alice in Wonderland, The Smurfs, Arthur Christmas and is being used on all upcoming SPI's films.
Sony Pictures Imageworks has provided visual effects and digital animation for the following films:
- 22 Jump Street
- 50 First Dates
- Alice in Wonderland
- Alice Through the Looking Glass
- America's Sweethearts
- Anger Management
- Arthur Christmas
- Bad Boys II
- Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
- Cast Away
- Charlie's Angels
- Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
- Christmas with the Kranks
- City of Angels
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
- Die Hard with a Vengeance
- Early Bloomer
- Edge of Tomorrow
- Emojimovie: Express Yourself
- Ghost Rider
- Green Lantern
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- Hollow Man
- Hotel Transylvania
- Hotel Transylvania 2
- Hotel Transylvania 3
- I Am Legend
- I Spy
- In the Line of Fire
- Last Action Hero
- Men in Black II
- Men in Black 3
- Monster House
- Open Season
- Oz: The Great and Powerful
- Patch Adams
- Sausage Party
- Smurfs: The Lost Village
- Snow Falling on Cedars
- Spider-Man 2
- Spider-Man 3
- Starship Troopers
- Stuart Little
- Stuart Little 2
- Suicide Squad
- Surf's Up
- Tall Tale
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- The Angry Birds Movie
- The Aviator
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- The Chubbchubbs!
- The Ghost and the Darkness
- The Interview
- The Star
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Matrix Reloaded
- The Matrix Revolutions
- The Polar Express
- The Smurfs
- The Smurfs 2
- What Lies Beneath
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